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Anti-graft strides commendable

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Added 20th December 2018 02:37 PM

Human rights is considered internationally as a measure of good governance and rule of law. The Government, through JLOS, has tried continuing to fulfil the international human rights instruments through accountability-based approach and institutionalisation of a human rights-based culture.

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Namayanja Rose Nsereko

Human rights is considered internationally as a measure of good governance and rule of law. The Government, through JLOS, has tried continuing to fulfil the international human rights instruments through accountability-based approach and institutionalisation of a human rights-based culture.

By Namayanja Rose Nsereko

CORRUPTION


The Government is committed to fighting corruption and improving human rights in Uganda. One of the Government’s strategy is the observance of human rights and accountability among the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) institutions.

Human rights is considered internationally as a measure of good governance and rule of law. The Government, through JLOS, has tried continuing to fulfil the international human rights instruments through accountability-based approach and institutionalisation of a human rights-based culture.

During the last financial year, the JLOS had projected to reduce human rights abuse by its institutions by 12%. However, by the end of the year, human rights abuse by JLOS institutions reduced by 16% due to greater awareness and emphasis to zero tolerance to torture.

In regard to stepping up interventions to reduce human rights abuse in JLOS and other security institutions, the Government continued with creation of human rights committees within institutions such as the Police and Prisons. Last year, the number of Police stations with functional human rights committees were 21 against the projected 20 stations.

In addition, the Police handled to conclusion 70% of the reported domestic violence cases against the projected 60%. However, only 49% against the projected 75% of complaints against police officers were disposed of.

According to the Uganda Human Rights Commission, an institution that ensures protection and promotion of human rights, the proportion of human rights recommendations adopted by the Government was 46% against the projected 40%. However, only 29% of the targeted 675 human right cases were disposed of in 2017/18 due to delayed appointments of commissioners.

In an effort to create human rights awareness, the commission held 688 out of the targeted 600 human rights baraza meetings and also circulated 93% of the projected 25,000 information, education and communication materials.

In regard to prisoners’ access to justice and effective case management as a human right, data shows that the average stay on remand for petty offenders was at 2.5 months against the projected two months and 19.8 months for capital offenders against projected 18 months.  The Uganda Prisons Services continued to provide 100% of basic necessities of life to prisons as a means of observing human rights in prisons.

Besides enhancing human rights observance, the Government continued to promote accountability following the introduction of anti-corruption strategy. Last year alone, the disposal rate of corruption cases was 52.4% against the projected 48.7%.

Still on corruption, many legal frameworks have been put into effect by the Government. The Penal Code provides instruments to deal with various corruption offences, including embezzlement, causing financial loss, abuse of office and fraud.

The Leadership Act criminalises attempted corruption, active and passive bribery, extortion, bribing of foreign public officials and abuse of office. Private sector bribery is covered under the Anti-Corruption Act.

The Public Finance Management Act establishes a single treasury account to make public expenditure more transparent and reduce the vulnerability to graft among other measures.

The Whistle-blowers’ Protection Act seeks to protect whistle-blowers and provides monetary rewards in return for reporting. Of course there are many other laws in place such as Anti-Corruption Act, The Inspectorate of Government Act and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority Act, which compose the core of Uganda’s legal framework against corruption.

As a result of the above laws, between July and December 2017, the IG registered 1,300 complaints on corruption and maladministration. Of these, 633 were registered at the head office and 766 at the regional offices across the country. A total of 947 complaints were investigated and concluded while 4,817 investigations are ongoing.

Arising from the investigations, more than sh15b was saved (especially from court fines, awards and orders). Recoveries were also made from officials in the ministries, departments and agencies and local governments (due to administrative sanctions) amounting to sh267m. A total of 14 cases of grand and syndicated corruption were completed, involving 20 high-ranking public officials who were arrested and are being prosecuted.

The Inspectorate of Government prosecuted 105 corruption officials out of which 15 cases were concluded. Ninety-five (95) cases are ongoing (58 on the first hearing and 37 on appeal).  These prosecutions resulted into 11 convictions (IG conviction rate stands 73.3%), two acquittals, one withdrawal and two dismissals. Under civil litigation, seven judicial review cases were concluded and all the judgements were in favour of the IG.

The IG supported 14 partnerships/institutions, which involved faith-based organisations and integrity clubs in tertiary institutions to create public awareness on the evils of corruption and enlist public support in the fight against corruption.

The IG also intensified sensitisation of the public about various government projects, their goals, expected benefits and implementation strategy in order to maximise value for money.

As an Ombudsman office, the IG forms a bridge between the Government and the citizens who expect services from the public office.

A total of 354 ombudsman complaints were investigated and concluded (which is 15% less compared to the previous period). Deliberate efforts have been made to support MDAs and local governments establish local complaints handling mechanisms in order to revitalise and foster speedy and more effective grievance handling of citizen complaints across government institutions.

On the oversight role of ensuring transparency, accountability and anti-corruption in donor and government funded projects, the IG inspected 533 government projects, mostly under discretionary development equalisation grant, Northern Uganda Social Action Fund and the Youth Livelihood Programme.

With such developments, one can say the NRM government is doing all it can to ensure no corruption of any form takes place.

In addition, the Government also established the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court, with jurisdiction over corruption and related cases. The main rationale for its establishment was the speedy resolution of corruption cases and for that measure, the division has been successful. This creation is also a manifestation of the political will on the side of the NRM Government to fight corruption.

National treasurer-NRM

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